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A chlorite is a compound that contains the chlorite ion, ClO−
Chlorite is the strongest oxidizer of the chlorine oxyanions, on the basis of standard half cell potentials.
- 2 NaClO2 + Cl2 → 2 ClO2 + 3 NaCl + H2O
- 5 NaClO2 + 4 HCl → 5 NaCl + 4 ClO2 + 2 H2O
Salts like ammonium chlorite, are impossible to obtain, as the chlorous anion will oxidize the ammonium cation.
Chlorites, like sodium or potassium chlorite can be purchased from lab suppliers.
Sodium chlorite can be made by reducing sodium chlorate in a strong acid solution with a suitable reducing agent, like sodium sulfite, sulfur dioxide or even hydrochloric acid. This produces chlorine dioxide, which is then absorbed into an alkaline solution and reduced with hydrogen peroxide, yielding sodium chlorite. The final product will always contain 20% sodium chloride.
- NaNO3 + Cl2 → NaClO2 + NOCl
Similar techniques can be done for other chlorite salts.
Safety and handling
Chlorites are powerful oxidizers. Avoid contact with acids, as the reaction will release toxic chlorine dioxide.
- Cotton, F. Albert; Wilkinson, Geoffrey (1988), Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (5th ed.), New York: Wiley-Interscience, p. 564